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Section 2: Being in Shape to Ride

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2.1 – Alcohol, Other Drugs and Riding

Alcohol is a major contributor to motorcycle crashes, particularly fatal crashes. Studies show that nearly 40% of all riders killed in motorcycle crashes had been drinking. Riding “under the influence” of alcohol or other drugs poses mental, physical and legal hazards for every rider.

By becoming knowledgeable about the effects of alcohol and other drugs, you will see that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix.

Effects of Alcohol and other Impairing Drugs

Alcohol and other drugs impair your:

  • Judgment – Alcohol and other impairing drugs affect those areas of your brain that control judgment. You may not be able to make good decisions about the traffic conditions or how to protect yourself.
  • Vision – Alcohol and certain types of drugs can blur your vision, slow your ability to focus and cause double vision.
  • Reaction Time – Alcohol and other impairing drugs slow your ability to process information and impact your ability to react quickly to a situation.

How Alcohol Works

Unlike other beverages, alcohol is absorbed directly through the walls of the stomach and the small intestine, goes into the bloodstream, and travels throughout the body and to the brain. Alcohol is absorbed quickly and can be measured within 30 to 70 minutes after a person has had a drink.

A typical drink equals about half an ounce of alcohol. This is the approximate amount of alcohol found in:

  • one shot of distilled spirits, or
  • one 5-ounce glass of wine, or
  • one 12-ounce beer.

What Affects My Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)?

BAC refers to the amount of alcohol contained in a person’s blood. In all states, an adult with a BAC of 0.08% or above is considered intoxicated. However, impairment begins with the first drink. Even under .08, you can be impaired and convicted for riding impaired. How fast a person’s BAC rises varies with a number of factors:

  • The number of drinks. The more you drink, the higher the BAC.
  • How fast you drink. When alcohol is consumed quickly, you will reach a higher BAC than when it is consumed over a longer period of time.
  • Your gender. Women generally have less water and more body fat per pound of body weight than men. Alcohol does not go into fat cells as easily as other cells, so more alcohol remains in the blood of women.
  • Your weight. The more you weigh, the more water is present in your body. This water dilutes the alcohol and lowers the BAC.
  • Food in your stomach. Absorption will be slowed if you’ve had something to eat.

Don’t Drink or Don’t Ride

The safest and most responsible choice is to not drink and ride, because once you start, your judgment is affected and your ability to say “no” gets weaker.

If you plan on drinking, leave your motorcycle at home and find other transportation so you won’t be tempted to ride impaired. Or, call ahead to where you plan on drinking and ask if there is a secure place for you to store your motorcycle overnight so you can find an alternative way home – such as a taxi or designated driver.

There are no shortcuts to sobering up fast. None of the “remedies” you may have heard about – cold showers, hot coffee, or physical exercise – will make you sober faster. The only proven remedy to sobering up is time. Remember – your body can process about one drink an hour.

Other Impairing Drugs and Riding

All drugs may affect your ability to ride safely. This is true of many prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal drugs. If you are not sure if it is safe to take a drug and ride, ask your doctor or pharmacist about any side effects.

Never drink alcohol while you are taking other drugs. These drugs could multiply the effects of alcohol or have additional effects of their own. These effects not only reduce your ability to operate your motorcycle, but could cause serious health problems, even death.

2.2 – Health

There are many health conditions that can affect your riding, even little problems. Check with your doctor if a health condition could interfere with you operating a motorcycle.

2.3 – Emotions

Emotions can interfere with your ability to think, create mental distractions, increase risk-taking, create a lack of attention, and interrupt the ability to process information. You may not be able to give all your attention to operating a motorcycle if you are overly worried, excited, afraid, angry or depressed.

2.4 – Georgia’s Impaired Driving Laws and Penalties (OCGA §40-6-391)

First Offense

  • Possible jail time up to one year, but not less than 24 hours
  • Fine of $300 minimum, up to $1,000
  • License suspension of up to one year
  • 40 hours of community service, minimum mandatory
  • Mandatory DUI Alcohol/Drug Risk Reduction Program at offender’s expense
  • Mandatory 12 months probation
  • Possible Clinical Evaluation at offender’s expense
  • $210 license reinstatement fee

Second Offense within Five Years of First Offense

  • Minimum mandatory 72 hours in jail, possible 90 days to one year
  • Fine of $600 minimum, up to $1,000
  • License suspension of 18 months
  • Minimum 30 days community service
  • Mandatory 12 months probation
  • Mandatory DUI Alcohol/Drug Risk Reduction Program at offender’s expense
  • $210 set license reinstatement fee
  • A mandatory clinical evaluation at offender’s expense

Third Offense within Five Years of Second Offense

  • Minimum mandatory 15 days jail time
  • Fine of $1,000 minimum, up to $5,000
  • License revocation for five years
  • Minimum mandatory 30 days community service
  • Violator’s name, photo, and address published in local newspaper at violator’s expense
  • Declared as habitual violator, the license plate for his/her vehicle will be seized by the court and forwarded to the Georgia Department of Revenue
  • Face a mandatory clinical evaluation at offender’s expense, and, if indicated, completion of substance abuse treatment program at the offender’s expense
  • $410 set license reinstatement fee

Open Container Law

The law defines “open alcoholic beverage container” as any bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and: (1) is open or has a broken seal; or (2) the contents of which are partially removed.

The law prohibits anyone from consuming any alcoholic beverage, or possessing any open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle which is on the roadway or shoulder of any public highway. Only a person who consumes an alcoholic beverage or possesses an open alcoholic beverage container will be charged with an open container violation; however, a driver who is alone in a motor vehicle shall be deemed to be in possession of any open alcoholic beverage container. Anyone who violates this law is subject to a fine not to exceed $200.

This provision does not apply to any passenger in the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation or in the living quarters of a motor home or house trailer.

All Offenses of Georgia Impaired Driving Laws

The court shall order a person convicted of impaired driving to have an ignition interlock device attached to his/her vehicle for second and subsequent offenses within five (5) years, unless the court exempts the person due to financial hardship. This is required for any vehicle that is operated by the offender for a period of twelve (12) months.

License plates are also seized anytime a violator is convicted of a second or subsequent DUI within five (5) years.

Minors: In addition to court-imposed penalties, drivers between the ages of 15-21 who are convicted of impaired driving must delay obtaining their graduated license for 12 months. The BAC level for DUI for persons under 21 has been established at .02, while the level for adults is .08.